UN: Investigate free expression violations in Gaza

UN: Investigate free expression violations in Gaza - Civic Space

After an Israeli air strike on the east of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestine, 8 May 2024. Photo: Anas-Mohammed / Shutterstock


ARTICLE 19 made this statement during an interactive dialogue with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory at the 56th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.

ARTICLE 19 thanks the Commission of Inquiry for their report, which puts us on a path to ensure justice for the human rights catastrophe unfolding in Gaza.

We condemn in the strongest terms Israel’s continuing assault on the right to freedom of expression and access to information, which prevents the collection of evidence and ultimately accountability for the numerous war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law identified in the report.

In particular, at least 108 journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza since the war began. Israel has also implemented a near-total ban of foreign journalists and closed media outlets, alongside ongoing communication blackouts.

This all-out assault on freedom of expression obstructs reporting on the conflict, limits access to lifesaving information, and disrupts the vital operations of hospital and humanitarian organisations, perpetuating cycles of violence and disinformation. It is a deliberate tactic to conceal grave human rights violations and deny justice.

In doing so, Israel has failed to comply with the International Court of Justice’s order to take effective measures to prevent the destruction of evidence and to ensure the preservation of evidence.

We are also concerned about Israel scaling up misuse of biometric technologies, particularly facial recognition, to enable mass surveillance in Gaza. While these technologies were used prior to the Hamas-led attack on 7 October, we fear of their potential use to facilitate killings of more civilians and further human rights violations in the ongoing war.

We urge the Commission of Inquiry to explicitly investigate and provide recommendations on violations of the right to freedom of expression in its future reports. These issues do not exist in a vacuum – they are fundamentally linked to findings of this current report and are critical in ensuring justice.